One of the most common complaints I get from clients is of lower back pain.
In these clients, there are two main behaviours I also often see - sedentary behaviour (desk jobs) or overzealous activity (heavy lifting and active gym-goers). So the question is - can you actually train with lower back pain? The answer is yes, you can! Unless of course, if it is very acute pain (and you have been given doctor's orders). Why keep training? The reason you should keep exercising with back pain is that if you stop doing anything, stop using your muscles, this will lead to further muscle loss and weakness - something I definitely don't want to see happen.
How to exercise safely with back pain
The key to exercising with back pain is to stay active but do so in a safe and effective manner. Modified low-intensity training is still perfectly ok for people with lower back pain. Start lightly on exercises to keep your lower back stable and still then work your way up in progression of exercise. The back was not designed to flex and rotate easily. Think about how many times in a day to you have to twist down and touch your toes - it is just not a functional movement! The spines biomechanics are similar to that of a bridge you need strong support on either side and a stable centre being the spine. You do need to stay active especially in the joints around the spine such as the hips and upper body but you must keep the lower back still. This prevents stress and strain on the lower back the same way a sturdy bridge doesn't buckle in the middle.
Strengthen your core
The words 'core stability' is used often in relation to a healthy back, the key is to keep the lower back stable and in neutral in a wide variety of positions. This can be done with the classic plank or side bridge as well as with using swiss balls foam rollers and TRX straps. In theory, any exercise can actually be a good core exercise if done correctly with a neutral spine (ensure you do these exercises under the supervision of a trained specialist).
You should also always be wary if you have any referring pain to other areas, speak to your therapist or doctor before starting your exercise program. If you stick to some simple rules, back pain can be treated and prevented in the future allowing you to get back to enjoying the activities you enjoy again!
Written by Luke Dorizas